The ethnographic setting of the Shias in Germany is still characterized by the results of several waves of migration since the 1960s: Iranians, Turkish labor migrants, and Lebanese, Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani refugees maintain their ethnic identity partly by means of religion and ritual activity. However, there are some German converts, as well as Turkish Sunnis who mainly converted as early as the 1980s being attracted by the success of the “Islamic Revolution” in Iran, and several Turkish Alevis, who see their activity within Shia in Germany or as Shias not as a conversion but as a “return” to their “true” Karbala and an Ali/Husayn-centred form of Islam. Such converts, notably those of German descent, are particularly active in public and association activities, as well as in the IGS (the Islamische Gemeinschaft der schiitischen Gemeinden Deutschlands,the Islamic Community of Shia communities in Germany), which seems typical for people who turn to a new religion in their adult live.
With the wide range of ethnic backgrounds of Shia communities mentioned above, in Germany they usually gather around a core of people with similar national or ethnic affiliations, such as Iraqi, Lebanese, Iranian, Afghan or South Asian. However, as not every city and region has organizations and communities from every ethnic group, people with a Shia identity usually join each other either by using the same localities successively on the same date, or by integrating within one gathering ritual specificities from several (e.g. both Iraqi and Iranian) ritual cultures. In such a context, visitors to the ritual event necessarily participate in ritual activities distinct from the cultural context of their country of origin. This is especially true for the younger generation. For them, there is no conscious awareness of such cultural distinctions, or they may even deliberately negate them in order to cultivate a pan-Shia practice.
The ritual practices among Shia communities in Germany from different ethnic backgrounds will be discussed briefly in some of the following pots of our blog.
Take from: Shiite “Communities of Practice” in Germany
By: Robert Langer and Benjamin Weineck